Tag Archives: culture

Understanding Diversity

By Tahrima Bhuiyan

I am the child of two Bangladeshi Americans. Every summer until I was ten years old, my family would visit our relatives back in Bangladesh– and then again, when I was fourteen, and then again this past summer, at eighteen.

I grew up travelling. I had visited a number of countries by the age of ten. To me, differences were normal– different colors, different cultures, different foods, different clothing, different religions. This was further reinforced by the fact that I was brought up in a very diverse community in Dallas, Texas.  

I have been raised amidst every possible race, culture, sexuality and religion. To the left of our home, there lived a Chinese family, to our right an African-American couple, and straight across, an old Colombian couple. In high school, my best friends represented every possible ethnicity. On Tuesday, my Vietnamese friends and I went to eat pho; on Friday, my African American friend’s mom gave me a dashiki, and on Saturday, I learned to do the salsa (even though I’m not good at it).

Diversity was a significant part of my experience; I was naive growing up, for I thought it was as normal to embrace differences for everyone else as it was for me. However, as incomprehensible as it was to me, discrimination soon became impossible to ignore. The older I got, the more I noticed misogyny, Islamophobia, racism, sexism, homophobia and intolerance. It was sad to see my friends and peers experiencing hatred and prejudice due to their skin color. It was difficult to experience it myself. It was heartbreaking to interact with refugees from places such as Yemen, Syria and Myanmar and hear their stories of hardship and injustice and watch the world fail to care. I witnessed a lack of accessible healthcare, education and, many times, of basic human rights in developing nations abroad. These experiences led me to want work with NGOs; I have been working with UNICEF for three years and I hope to continue to work with  NGOs to address human rights violations.

Continue reading Understanding Diversity

The Board Game Makes a Comeback, and College Students Rejoice!

By Jennifer Sung

In the 21st century, there are different forms of entertainment for college students. Whether it be deep late night conversations at 3am on a school night or binge watching a Netflix tv show, the majority of college students spend most of their time bumping up their social life. Once greatly underrated, playing board games became popular recently as another form of entertainment amongst college students. Amongst the many, there are three board games that have been placed at the top of most recommendation lists: Codenames, Settlers of Catan, and Avalon. All of these board games aim to stimulate teamwork, cognition, decision making, logical reasoning, and the ability to work in social contexts.

Codenames is a word associated game that encourages cleverness and creativity. Codenames was labeled as the 2016 Game of the Year. Everyone is split into 2 teams, and is given a handful of words to describe to the other team. The “spymasters” for each team need to give one word clues that group up meanings or hint at one or more words that the rest of the team need to decode. This game tests the closeness, the teamwork, and the communication skills of the group. There are two versions of this game (uncensored vs censored). The uncensored version utilizes more adult-appropriate words that seem to be more popular amongst college students. The censored version is a more family-orientated game.

Settlers of Catan is a game that gambles luck, strategy, and decision making. The board is different depending on the initial roll, placement of the boards, and the actions of the other players. Fairly different from other games, this game has everyone involved on every turn. Anyone is eligible to receive a resource each time the dice are rolled, no matter who rolls. Additionally, everyone is allowed to trade with the current player rolling the die. This game is about trading sheep, wood, bricks, and wheat to build roads, houses, buildings, and cities. The goal is to monopolize the resources and other players to win the game. This amount of time spent on this game varies from 30 minutes to even 2 hours. This game is all about player interaction, replayability, and a beautiful mix of luck and strategy.

Continue reading The Board Game Makes a Comeback, and College Students Rejoice!

The Universality of Human Connection

By Anthea Xiao

At a young age, I was introduced to and fascinated by Japanese culture through the channel of Japanese animations such as Studio Ghibli films and Doraemon. Eager to learn more about the Japanese language and customs, I enrolled in Japanese as my foreign language class and took the initiative to study Japanese culture on my own. My Japanese teacher recognized my passion and introduced me to an exchange program, which allowed students to live with host families and experience life as a Japanese High School student. I quickly seized the opportunity, and in the summer of 2016, I embarked on an unforgettable journey to Kanazawa, Japan.

Prior to flying to Japan, I diligently memorized Japanese phrases applicable for specific situations, read countless articles regarding Japanese etiquette, and even watched host-exchange “horror-stories” online from other students to prepare myself for any undesirable scenarios.

My heart was leaping out of my chest with anxiety and excitement when I saw my host-family waving the sign “ようこそ, アンセア!” (Welcome, Anthea!) at airport gate. During the initial stage of my stay, my host-exchange experience was exceeded beyond my imagination and expectations. I tasted a diverse array of authentic Japanese cuisines (a superb bowl of ramen was only $5 USD!), I quickly bonded with classmates through organizations such as the student acapella and traditional tea ceremony club, and I was able to improve my language ability through practicing colloquial Japanese outside of a classroom setting.

However, despite enjoying my host situation, I found it difficult to feel completely at ease with my host-family. I had read in textbooks that it is impolite to address Japanese people in an intimate or casual manner upon initial greetings. Therefore, although my host-parents asked me to address them as “mother” and “father” just like my host-sister did, I insisted on calling them Mr. and Mrs. Yoshida in fear of breaching their existing family structure.

The phrase “迷惑” (meiwaku) means to burden or to cause inconvenience for others. In Japan, a collective and harmony-focused society, causing meiwaku is a taboo and could signal a person as self-centered and uncouth. To avoid being seen as a meiwaku to my host-family, I refrained from seeking for help when I had trouble finding the way home from school or did not understand how to operate machine devices at home.

Continue reading The Universality of Human Connection